12 Most Contaminated Fruits And Vegetables

Dirty DozenBased on over 100,000 recent U.S. Government tests, on 46 popular fruits and vegetables, The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non profit consumer watchdog group, came up with the “Dirty Dozen.” This is a grouping of 12 commercially grown fruits and vegetables that have the highest levels of toxic pesticide residue.

By choosing Certified Organic versions of the produce from this list and the processed food made from them (pies, juices, jams, sauces etc…), you will be taking a big step towards better health and limiting your exposure to harmful chemicals by as much as 90%. By limiting the toxic load on your body, you will also be helping yourself to avoid painful, chronic diseases.

Dirty DozenThe pesticides used in commercial farming are full of toxins that attack your nervous system, reproductive system and immune system, damage your brain and cause cancer. Developing fetuses and young children are especially at risk for being harmed by these chemicals.

EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Use the following Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to reduce your exposures as much as possible. This list will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic.

The Dirty Dozen for 2011 – Buy these organic

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines– imported
  7. Grapes – imported
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries– domestic
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

The Clean 15 – Lowest in Pesticide

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe- domestic
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

59 thoughts on “12 Most Contaminated Fruits And Vegetables

  1. Pingback: NewWays » Featured » Know Your Contaminated Fruits And Vegetables

  2. Milander on

    US gov has always been amazingly soft on businesses involved in food production…. this doesn’t supries me at all and, in fact, I’m suprised it isn’t worse!

  3. parker on

    Thanks you so much for posting! This really meant a lot to me. Knowledge is power!

  4. Donny on

    Want food prices to skyrocket? Ban the pesticides! Or how about just washing your veggies?

    This “dirty dozen” list is overblown and nothing more than scare tactics. You get more chemical exposure from any number of things in daily life, and guess what – most people handle it fine. Life is dangerous and something will get you no matter how safe you are. There’s no need to make food even more expensive.

  5. Lydia on

    In response to the last comment: I am not entirely sure that the high price of healthy produce has much to do with how much chemical pesticides are used. There are natural ways that farmers can protect their produce. There are plenty of plants which produce their own natural pesticides which work as well or better than harsh chemicals. Further, the United States government should be playing a role in ensuring the health and safety of it’s people. If our government wanted to, we could have subsidies for organic food as opposed to subsidizing corn and wheat for ethanol production.

    To call information like this “scare tactics” does a disservice to the scientific research that people carry out to allow us to make informed decisions about the substances which we consume. If we want to eat an apple, we want to eat an apple…not an apple with a coating of petrochemically derived pesticides and who knows what else. To say that most people handle it fine is about as reasonable as saying that most people handle toxic waste in the air just fine. When 1 in 2 men in America will have cancer at least once in their life and 1 in 3 women will suffer some form of the disease, it’s hard to say that most people handle toxins just fine.

    Life is dangerous, but that doesn’t mean we should all be fine with eating poison.

  6. Donny on

    You know what’s misleading? Throwing out aggregated cancer statistics and blaming it on “contaminates”. You are correct – approximately 40% of people are diagnosed with some sort of cancer in their lifetime. You want to know what the single largest responsible factor? Vices: smoking, drinking, drugs, obesity, sunbathing and the like. There’s research that shows not getting ENOUGH fruits and veggies contributes to getting cancer. Besides, cancer diagnoses have been trending down for the last decade, yet pesticide use is at record levels. Moreover, most cancer cases caused by chemicals are attributable to people who WORK with chemicals for a living (painters, construction workers, etc). And perhaps most telling about your lack of candor is that human data for individual pesticides is very limited. A good picture of the risks simply doesn’t exist, but when all cancer causes are considered, food/chemical contamination is a very small causal factor.

    At a time when energy prices are causing food prices to skyrocket, at a time when agricultural products are being diverted to make ethanol fuel, at a time when there’s food shortages around the world, at a time when the economy is nosediving, your pesticide problem looks pretty insignificant, particularly when “natural” alternatives are much less effective and much more costly. Certainly no one would object to natural methods of pest control being introduced along with standard methods, but the problem is people are taking it too far with their fear-mongering. Putting draconian controls on chemical pesticide use will only serve to impact poor people the most. And when they can’t afford a proper diet, their cancer rates are going to increase. Thanks for nothing.

  7. Bob on

    Scientific research, eh? We’re not talking about a government agency or a privately funded organization, we are talking about a “a non profit consumer watchdog group”. Last time I checked, their website has everything to do with “scare tactics”. They are no better than those Truth.com folks or even PrisonPlanet. Just wasteful blather to further distract us away from enjoying life, and instead fear it. Humans have evolved over millions of years, and I’m sure our bodies have gotten past bigger things than pesticides in that time. So I apologize, Lydia, but I do not share your views on the importance of this “information”.

  8. Chuck on

    And people wonder why I am NOT a Veggan,
    STEAK!! It’s what’s for breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
    I’ll eat cows who eat the top twelve vegetables.
    EEK !

  9. el pedro on

    Interesting the government has the money for this when things like children’s toys simply don’t have the funding. I’d be more worried about what the government doesn’t do than what they do for propaganda efforts, I’m sure.

    Does anyone in their right mind think the government really cares about our health and well being?

  10. Aaron on

    “I am not entirely sure that the high price of healthy produce has much to do with how much chemical pesticides are used.”

    Actually, pest control is one of the biggest costs associated with food production. I won’t bore you with all the stats but they can be found here: http://www.nass.usda.gov/

    What’s more, while it is true that many pesticides are toxic to humans, safety factors of at least 100 are required when estimating human intake (most of the raw toxicity data is derived from long term animal testing, however.) There isn’t a single study that makes a link between average lifetime pesticide intake and chronic illness.

    So yes, that data is junk scare tactics. However, I do strongly agree that government subsidies should go pretty much anywhere but corn.

    Just out of curiosity, does your concept of “organic” farming include artificial nitrogen fertilizers?

  11. nicole on

    for the person below, pesticides do not come off if you “wash your veggies” the exposure to the pesticides while they are growing causes the pesticide to get into the fruit or vegetable. its not just something thats squirted on the plant and rinses off. Just so you know.

  12. Paul on

    Wow. I eat all of those veggies on a regular basis. When can I expect cancer? What about some sort of debilitating brain tumor that could only serve to cause headaches more severe than reading this posting?

    If you’re that scared of your food, don’t eat it. There are companies making more money off the fact that you won’t eat anything with chemicals on it.

    Sure there are alternatives. When you find some, check the price tag again.

    I’m in league with Donny and Bob. Sorry. I’m more worried about buying veggies without the pesticides and wondering if there’s a worm growing inside than about eating the same chemicals I’ve been eating since I was a kid.

    Shouldn’t we be more concerned with ensuring that there’s enough food to feed everyone in America (and the world) than whether or not it was sprayed with pesticides?

    Show us the numbers for how many people have died from eating said contaminated peaches. Show us the numbers for how many people have fallen ill from contaminated apples. Until then, cry wolf elsewhere, I don’t buy it.

    • Shay on

      Looks like you’re on the Soylent Green team then, huh Paul.

      “Shouldn’t we be more concerned with ensuring that there’s enough food to feed everyone in America (and the world) than whether or not it was made with human flesh?”

  13. MJ on

    Thanks for the listing. Why is there so much cancer now compared to 100 years ago when less pesticides were used? Why are there so many miscarriages? I’m just sayin’ make the connection.

  14. Reez on

    I must agree with Lydia, and I believe that the problem is that these pesticides are not the only cause for Cancer, they are just one of the many contributing factors to Cancer including pollution, the Vices, etc…all of which are either eaten, or inhaled or in some way consumed. Pesticides along with all the other causes, bioaccumilate in fatty tissues of the body and have an effect over time, so I think its best to avoid these top 12 in the commercial toxic form if you can, and give yourselves a few more years….maybe…
    Great topic…now to look for a grocery store with all 12 in the organic form..:+(

  15. jkg on

    “At a time when energy prices are causing food prices to skyrocket”

    It’s called buying locally when you can. Ever heard of a farmer’s market? OH HEY THAT’S USUALLY ORGANIC.

  16. I posted about this also, in April. I’m glad to see other people posting it, especially on sites that get a lot of viewers :) Mine was only a few days old when I posted it, so, sadly, I don’t think many people saw it, and it’s something I consider important.

  17. Lad on

    its photo shopped, just look at the shadows.

    And i want facts and figures, i want to know how they tested, and i want proof that pesticides are bad for me.

    Appart from that, well done, a deep and inciteful post that demonstrates the evangelical nature of humanity in our modern society.

  18. Judd on

    I’m sorry, but I’m not going out of my way to NOT eat those 12 “blacklisted” veggies. People are always saying “You can’t eat this, you can’t eat that”. They say you can’t eat meat, it’s bad for you. You can’t eat sugar, it’s bad for you. You can’t eat flour-based products, flour is bad for you. Now you can’t eat fruits and vegetables? What’s next? “you can’t drink water because 100% of thew people who have drank water have DIED!!!!” “you can’t breathe air because 100% of the people who have breathed air have DIED!!!!!” Screw that, jack! I’m EATING my fruits and veggies, AND my MEAT, with a heaping pile of BREAD AND SUGAR on top!!!! SO THERE

  19. Holly on

    As an Agricultural student (The Ohio State University- College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Studies– ^_^ Go Bucks.), I have to agree with Donny and those who side with him. Pest control is a HUGE issue for farmers today (which is also why we have BT corn and soybeans– genetically modified plants that contains their own spliced-in ability to do away with pests but some people refuse to eat it because OMG it’s a GMO.) Still, for many, pesticides are the most cost effective way to go (since studies show that BT GMOs have lower yields) Anyways. Directed to Nicole: I don’t know where you get your information- but most pesticides DO wipe off and thats why they need pesticides re-applied as often as they do because rain water washes it off. And if you’re so damn worried about it buy Fit (a brand of fruit and veggie soap). And to jkg: actually seeing as most farmers don’t grow organic- what you’re buying at the farmers market, unless labeled by the USDA/FDA as ORGANIC- it’s probably not.
    Oh and FYI– just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s not a GMO (for those who care) OMG what WILL you eat now?! >:P

  20. Lloyd on

    “Dirty Dozen” doesn’t say anything about washing the produce before testing.

  21. Anonymous on

    Did anyone notice that most of the “safe” fruits/veggies have to be peeled?

  22. Laura on

    The cost of food is not the real issue. There are just too many people living on this planet to grow enough food without using pesticides and other scientific “enhancements”. Growing food organically solves some problems, but brings up others. Do I want to find other, safer ways to grow food? Of course, but going organic is not the solution. No one ever seems to address the unfortunate but true underlying fact that there are just too many of us humans. The only permanent solution is to stop increasing consumption and the only way to do that is to encourage people to not have so many kids. There I said it, go ahead and hate me for it, but it’s the truth.

    And don’t get me started on GMOs. All our food are genetically modified in one way or another.

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  24. What is most telling about people like Donny, Bob, Chuck, Paul & Judd is not a lack of candor but a complete lack of visual perception, a blindness probably caused by their concern for their own pocket books over public and environmental health.

    The Article states, “The pesticides used in commercial farming are full of toxins that attack your nervous system, reproductive system and immune system, damage your brain and cause cancer. Developing fetuses and young children are especially at risk for being harmed by these chemicals.”

    Look up some of these words: aldicarb, toxaphene, chlordane and heptachlor, chlordimeform, chlorobenzilate, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, lindane, paraquat, parathion, methyl parathion, pentachlorophenol and then tell me they are completely safe. They work as pesticides because they kill.

    While I’m sure if you eat one peach a week, the risk to a full grown healthy male is minimal, but take into account a developing fetus or a young child who might be ingesting these chemicals on a daily basis. Also take into account what Holly has unintentionally pointed out, that many of these pesticides wash off in the rain, into the soil, into our groundwater, into our rivers and lakes, into our atmosphere and therefore into our drinking water and food sources, causing cancers and killing indiscrimately, humans & wildlife in addition to bees and other beneficial insect need to pollinate many of these crops.

    This is not about scare tactics, its about giving information, how to limit your exposure to possible dangerous chemicals. What is wrong with that?

    My advice to Donny and the rest, Grow some organic Carrots, they are very cheap, high in vitamin A and good for the eyes.

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  26. Nikki on

    Everyone is so passionate with their view. In light of it all, we are living longer. I am a low income mom and I don’t get food stamps. I am not going to stop buying these fruits and veggies, if I did, then we would’t have any in our diet. Food is expensive and those things are always on sale. I am sure the benefits outweigh the risk.

  27. The price will come down once we all demand organic on a regular basis. Until then it surely doesn’t seem fair that some people go without because they can’t afford it.

  28. zain on

    I would invite the author of this article to read A Skeptical Environmentalist’s take on effect of pesticide use on humans–essentially harmless. I would enjoy and am open to scientific criticism that contradicts this view. If you simply cater to the public’s current obsession about organic farming without actually informing them of the nuances of the topic (no chemical difference between synthetic or artificial pyrethium etc…) then you are the one who is subtly undermining people, not the pesticides.

  29. Diana on

    Read “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson. Then see if pesticides are so great to those of you who say “Just wash your veggies (and fruits).”

  30. Dan on

    I work in apples, cherries and peaches and 95% of growers don’t use 45 different pesticides. If they were really finding this many pesticides on these fruit, then they are likely coming from sources other than direct spray, whether that be from irrigation water or some other source. That means that organic fruit is also covered in pesticides. Also, what pesticides were they finding? A good amount would likely have been OMRI approved (sulfur, pyrethrins, neem oils, etc.).
    Buying local foods will reduce the need for many pesticides (fungicides, bactericides, irradiation, storage pest targeting insecticides).

  31. Thanks for posting, I bought grapes that tasted like gasoline and went organic and vegetarian…

  32. I am living proof what pest.and antibiotics can do to you besides allergies to foods eaten 2 often. When you live on a diet of fish and still checking 1 item and spices at a time what I can and cannot eat again,maybe I can get back on some after a 6 month waiting period and slowly introduce them back into my diet and some will never be possible! After a three year battle of stomach problems without finding why after so many test and medicines wouldn’t help. Thank God my Dr.got connected with a allergist assistant that told her because she had it and finally pinpointed what was the matter. A simple questionaire called the “Yeast Connection” with yes or no questions is all it takes to know. There is a book called the Yeast Connection and a separete cookbook also by a Dr. that knows what is really going on! Wish I could think of his name at the moment.If you want to know you can get on my friends list and hope I can give you some info. You don’t have the slightest idea how bad we have polluted our world. In and on everything,no joke,I’m not laughing. Person on a diet the rest of my life.:)

  33. I can understand that pesticides are in those fruits and veggies and that veggie spray soap is only on the surface. I still believe in moderation for all foods. Best of all,I appreciate this information. Pass on more info. Its very educational. Thanks

  34. Pingback: Are You Contaminated? | Unheard Of

  35. gob bless you for showing us these valuable information,,, do you think we have same numbers here in kuwait?

  36. I’m scratching both my heads wondering why we should avoid all this toxic shit in our fruit n veg ;)

  37. Pingback: Organic vs. Conventional « Healthy Food 4 Life

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  39. Pingback: rainberryblue :: exploring organic :: January :: 2010

  40. dapper dan on

    I am 1 year 17 days post cancer DIAGNOSIS. I had my last chemo in september of 2009.

    I very much appreciate having this info available to me. Because now I know which fruit/veg are more important to buy organic. my cancer was/is purportedly chemical exposure induced. yet i did not wrk in a job that left mne exposed. I did however, grow up in a farming community. we did eat tones of fesh produce. we did wash thouroughly. Unfortunately many produce items absorb the fertilizers and pesticied into the flesh of the fruit/veg. washing does not always remove.

    The point is here people, become as knowlegeable as you can. avoid what you can avoid. research and discover and try your best to protect yourself. because it is YOUR responsibility to protect yourself. The gov will not do this for you.

    there will come a time in your life when You wish you had headed warnings. there always is, in everyones life. Don’t let food become a warning you didn’t heade.

    Also. remember this. as americans, you vote with your food dollars. you tell agribusiness what you prefer when you purchase. the more of us that buy organics, the more they will produce and the lower the cost will eventually become.

    vote healthy, vote wise.buy organics.

    at the very least, whenever possible buy organics to replace inorganics off this dirty dozen list.

    LOL at the guy that thinks buying steak is the answer.

  41. D-san on

    I’m not sure the list is scare-tactics so much as a way for readers to become informed about something most people ignore. Yes, I will agree that human beings consume LOTS of contaminants in their lifetimes, some more harmful than a low-grade pesticide, and for the most part lead healthy lives. That seems to be just gloss over the real issue here – we need to be aware of what we eat.

    Also, for the people who are claiming that food is more expensive without the pesticide and that this is all a matter of crying wolf, I direct you to the Monsanto company, maker of Round-Up herbicide. Monsanto patented the glyphosate molecule (the active ingredient in their herbicide) in 70s – Round-Up happens to be the most widely used herbicide in the world. Monsanto has now created a wonderfully lucrative business for itself by genetically engineering vegetable and plant seeds that have the glyphosate molecule spliced right into the plant. They are currently selling these seeds to companies all over the world.

    This will have untold effects on, well, everything. I am not eager to see how the presence of a plant that now has herbicides in its very genes will affect other crops, wildlife, and human consumers. So, yeah. Google Monsanto and then come back to this article, because I didn’t not really have the context I needed until I was able to see some tangible facts.

  42. Pingback: Genetically Modified Foods, and a curious, unrelated photo « Vegetariat

  43. Bonnie on

    My grandmother lived to be almost 95 drinking tap
    water and eating well washed fruits and veggies.
    Take a bit longer to wash them, fear is not good.

  44. Steve on

    Haven’t read any comments that look at this issue these ways:
    1. Is it better to keep finding ways to produce more and more food, with unnatural methods just so more and more people can be fed lower and lower quality of food? What kind of people will evolve that have only eaten GMO, artificially grown, pesticide covered food?
    2. Nobody has mentioned the taste test, I don’t think. The organic fruits and vegetables I buy and eat are tastier on average…some are very much tastier than the standard grown types.
    3. No, I probably won’t die from eating the chemicals that have been sprayed on fruits and veggies, but chemicals are not food. We do know that in concentrated amounts they DO harm people. My sister works at a children’s hospital and every week during harvest season, migrant worker’s children are brought in with serious problems that have been traced to being in the fields with thier parents and ingesting foods right from the fields before they can be washed during processing before going to market.
    4. Even if these chemicals don’t cause people to die, there are lots of other “side effects” to the environment because of non-organic farming methods. The most obvious is the large dead zone that is growing in the Gulf of Mexico due to run off of chemicals into the Mississippi River. This dead zone is harmful to marine life in the Gulf. What long term affect will this have on all of us?

  45. Pingback: 12 Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables | KneeBees – Protect Your Knees !!!

  46. No need to be scared of pesticide residue in top 15 fruits.
    What you need to do is to wash fruits properly with warm water. I may take little time but it will be pure and clean.

  47. hundertwasser on

    hi, that’s a city situation. There is whatsoever mistakes but the principal is here.

  48. Dennis on

    It seems that some people with a small amount of knowledge and a large amount of ego got on this blog to dis people looking for healthy info on food. The comment made by one such person that we have survived far worse things as a species is probably true in some respects and totally ignorant in most respects. Yes we will most likely survive this period in history where we are victims of chemical overexposure but remember your attitude when you are in agony from cancer at an abnormally young age. Wash off pesticides? You get what you deserve.

  49. It’s hard to argue with the health benefits of a diet rich in vegetables and fruits: Lower blood pressure; reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and probably some …

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